The Palestinian delegation to ceasefire negotiations in Cairo will proceed with negotiations Tuesday despite the deaths of two Hamas members suspected of killing three Israeli teens Tuesday morning, according to Palestinian sources.
“After consultations within the Palestinian delegation and brothers in Gaza and abroad it was decided to continue the Cairo meetings,” Senior Hamas official Mohammed al-Zahar told Reuters by phone from Cairo.
Palestinian official Qais Abu Leila had said earlier that the delegation was considering pulling out of the talks, among other options.
Zahar condemned the deaths of Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, but said Israel must not be allowed to “escape from commitments” it made in the August 26 ceasefire that ended seven weeks of violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The indirect talks with Israel, coming a month after hostilities ceased, are slated to bring the sides to a long-term ceasefire in exchange for easing Israeli restrictions on the Strip.
Israeli is seeking the disarmament of the Palestinian enclave, currently ruled by Hamas, considered a terror group, while Palestinians are looking to be able to open a seaport, airport and land borders, among other demands.
Kawasme and Abu Aysha were suspected to have kidnapped and killed three Israeli teens — Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, on June 12.
Their abduction set off a search operation in the West Bank as well as a crackdown on the Hamas organization, which Israel accused of being behind the attack. The bodies of the three teens were found in a shallow grave near Hebron on June 30.
After a months-long manhunt by Israeli security forces, they were both killed during an arrest attempt in Hebron early Tuesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. Hamas later confirmed their deaths.